One year ago, I promised myself that I wouldn’t write this post. One year ago Incognito Money Scribe launched, and I vowed then not to write one of those posts about the “lessons learned after X years of blogging.” Not that there is anything wrong with them. I just never wanted this blog to focus on me that much.
But, here we are.
Why the change of heart? I don’t want to take for granted what a gift it has been to have carried this project forward. Most importantly, the gift of someone like you — yes, you, you reading these words right now — reading my work.
In a recent episode of the fantastic 70 Over 70 podcast, the screenwriter Norman Lear tells host Max Linsky that everything in their lives have led them to the moment of their interview:
Norman: No, is that-that not amazing? I’ve been on this planet for 99 years and I’m meeting you for the very first time. It’s taken me all those years to get to you.
Max: Right. You’ve been walking around doing all of these incredible things and every moment has led to this.
Norman: To this! Yes! So what of that moment? How about that?
Max: Yeah, that’s some shit.
It is some shit, good shit, that every second of our lives have led to this: me writing this post and you reading it. That is a gift, and for that I am grateful to you. Such is the wonderfully unpredictable nature of life, which aptly describes my experience this past year — wonderfully unpredictable.
As a writer in the financial services industry for many years, I knew what to expect from managing a blog, as well as the drudgery and fear and doubt that comes when faced with a blank page.
What I didn’t expect was that it would be so transformational. What started as a blog about life as an anonymous financial writer targeted to all other unnamed writers tucked away in the communications and marketing departments of financial firms became my own personal finance blog. A place to express my own thoughts about money in my own way. A place to explore the meaning and mysteries of money by probing questions like: how can money make us happy?, how can we develop a healthy relationship with money?, what can people who are financially independent tell us about living a good life?
And with that came personal transformation. This blog is not a money-making machine. I would not recommend someone start a blog in hopes of getting rich. But blogging has been profitable in other personal ways.
To name a few: Adding to the public conversation of money has led to meeting many great people in finance — writers, investors, advisers, etc. — most of them people who I’ve admired for years. Publishing each post knowing that I have no control over whether it will be read and/or shared has boosted my sense of humility immensely. Most of all, it has been a exercise in endurance, to keep a consistent writing pace but also trying to write each post better than the last one.
So, my one big lesson from blogging: Dedicate yourself to a long-term project or skill or challenge, and it will provide greater benefits in your life than just the accomplishment of the thing itself.
In other words, the sum is greater than the parts. You must undertake a challenge that is commensurate with the happiness, success, well-being, etc., that you seek. It is those activities that give life fullness.
My favorite description of the purpose of running, writing and living comes from Haruki Murakami in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running:
Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life—and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree.
To live fully is why we write/run/paint/read/travel/work/cook/love/explore/invest/YOUR THING HERE.
With that said, I’ve enjoyed writing every article, but these are the ones that have made me feel most alive. Call them my greatest hits (in no particular order). Here’s to hit-making for another year:
If you want to lead a more fulfilling life, then do the things retirees are told to do to make the most of their remaining years.
Sturgeon’s Law saves a lot of time and effort. It helps you say “no” to all the wrong things, which is an effective financial habit. Listen to Warren Buffett: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
Though we are hardwired to seek forms of gratification, we are not condemned to this forever unsatisfying cycle. With a simple pause, it’s possible to step off the hedonic treadmill and pursue happiness without digging yourself into an unsatisfied grave.
“If you want to become a better writer, the two biggest things you can do are to write more and read more.” –Jason Zweig
How we use money can be considered an expression of what we consider meaningful. Although it is easy to succumb to societal pressures and spend it on status symbols that provide no meaning at all.
As people earn more money, their sense of well-being increases. That’s the conclusion of a study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Reading fiction may provide a useful resolution to our difficulty reconciling our current selves with our future selves. We can better empathize with the future selves that we treat as an “other”.
What you appreciate, appreciates. For you and for others. It is an important principle that applies to every pursuit in life, from investing to relationships.
Some self-awareness can help you strike a balance between high and low, risk and safety, for smooth, steady progress toward your financial goals. It can help you avoid taking unnecessary risk and following the herd mentality of the market.
Thank you for reading!